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Diary Of A... Career Coach
Illustration by JORDAN AMY LEE
Build
Diary Of A... Career Coach
Words by
Illustration by JORDAN AMY LEE
Have you ever wanted to walk a working week in someone else's shoes? Welcome to our new series, offering a no-holds-barred look at the Monday-Friday diary of successful women.

Lisa Quinn is a career coach, having pivoted industries from her role as a Communications Director to launch her own business in January 2018.  A qualified Certified Co-Active Professional Coach, Lisa thrives when helping others transform their lives, careers and businesses by offering coaching and workshops to executive teams and personal clients.

Monday

It’s 7am and I’m up and out of bed for a hug with my 12-year-old daughter, Emily. Then I'm on to a weights workout; brutal, but I’m always glad I’ve done it.   

I usually start work at 8.30 and I keep Monday mornings clear for planning and my own development.

Today I have a session with my coach supervisor. She helps me reflect on my work, and as is often the case, points out themes and habits in my coaching that I hadn’t spotted myself. Once I am aware of them, we can then work out if they are beneficial to my clients – in which case I can keep doing what I am doing. If they aren’t, I make a concerted effort to change them. Supervision benefits my clients as it makes me a better coach.

My husband Richard is working from home today and we have a quick lunch together. I’m struggling to finish writing a workshop that I’m delivering on Friday, so I head out for a coffee. One of the benefits of being a coach is learning strategies that can help us manage our brains, and I try and apply this to my own life. Research shows that having a treat before doing something you’re finding challenging can be more helpful than having it afterwards. It does the trick and I finish my workshop.

I spend the afternoon working on a proposal for an existing client. She’s asked me to develop and cost a proposal which would involve me helping her leadership team identify and harness their mindset, which gets interrupted by Emily coming in from school. We have a chat before she gets on with homework, and I get on with my work.

I take Nancy, our Labrador, for a walk before dinner and then afterwards attend a meeting at my local secondary school where I’m a governor. I’m tired by the time we finish at 9pm, and Rich and I watch an episode of Criminal before bed at 10pm. I try and read for a bit before I go to sleep. Sometimes it’s books for work, but more often than not, fiction. 

My main feeling today is... connected. I feel part of something today – probably because of my governor meeting.

Tuesday 

Emily wakes me up 6.45 am playing Lana Del Ray very loudly. I put on my running shoes and take a quick run by the river before a coffee and a shower. 

My first client is at 8.30am. She’s a senior woman in financial services and we’re working through a career change programme. This year, I’ve seen an increase in clients who have had a bit more time to reflect, and realised that their jobs don’t fulfil them. I can help them either change their mindset, or sometimes, change their career.

I then spend the rest of the day working with my business partner, Nicky.  As well as my own coaching business, Nicky and I create and run leadership programmes for graduates and people who want to be leaders in the future.

I’m tired by the time we finish at 5.30pm, so I give my brain a rest with half an hour of meditation. I’m training to be a meditation teacher and as part of my qualification I have to meditate for 30 minutes a day, for six weeks. My brain bounces around a lot today. I don’t find meditation easy, but it definitely helps my resilience and emotional control. I’m much less likely to shout at my husband/daughter/dog after a session. 

Emily and I take Nancy for a walk before dinner and I catch up on how her day has been. We spend the evening watching TV together. 

My biggest challenge at work this week is... juggling all my commitments.

Wednesday

I’m up at 6am this morning as I’ve got a busy day ahead. A 16-minute YouTube yoga session is a lovely way to start the day. 

I’m coaching at AllBright today as part of their Elevator programme - a year-long development course designed to help senior-level women break through the glass ceiling - and I slept badly last night. I often find that I wake up around 3am when I’m excited about something. It’s annoying, but a habit I’ve finally learnt to manage. When I wake up I’ll say to myself “Ah hello fear brain, thanks for waking me, but we’re OK, we’ve got this”. It sounds bonkers, but we’re mammals at the end of the day, and talking to ourselves with compassion lets our brain know that we’re safe. It does the trick and I go back to sleep quickly.

"Often, we’re so busy in our day jobs that we don’t stop to think where we want to end up. Coaching can give you the space to explore that"
Lisa Quinn, career coach

There are 10 women on the programme and this session is the first coaching workshop designed to kick things off. We spend the morning exploring their values – the things that make them tick – and visualising where they want to be in the future. Often, we’re so busy in our day jobs that we don’t stop to think where we want to end up. Coaching can give you the space to explore that. The women on the programme are all lovely - bright, thoughtful and engaged. It’s a lively workshop and the morning flies by.

In the afternoon, I take Emily to our local stables. I usually finish early one day a week to spend time with her doing something fun.

If ever I have a midweek slump, I get outside. Even a 10-minute walk around the block makes me feel better.

Thursday

This morning I’m up and out for another quick run by 7am. I exercise more for my mental health than anything else. It helps keep me on a more even footing.

I do my mindfulness practice this morning as today I am coaching all day for a corporate client. I start at 9am, and even though each person works in the same business, they each bring something different to explore.

That’s one of the joys of my job. Every client is an individual, and every session is completely different. That said, there are sometimes common themes. I’m working with quite a few clients who are experiencing impostorism at the moment. There’s no quick fix for it. It’s about helping the client see the cons and the pros of their behaviour because there are often positives to impostorism that it can be helpful to be aware of, and finding the hard evidence to challenge the limiting beliefs that they have about themselves. 

I work late until 9.30pm tonight. I have a tendency to overwork, which I need to keep an eye on. Having my own coach has helped me with this. She pointed out that I’d taken my old pattern of work - I used to have a big, demanding corporate job in PR - and put it on my new life. 

The one bit of my job I find most satisfying at the moment is... helping my clients get to where they want to be in their careers.

Friday

I start the day with a quick walk around the park with Nancy.

I’m at my desk by 8.30am as I’m coaching a group workshop via Zoom this morning and we’re exploring how to harness your strengths. There’s lots of research to show that harnessing your strengths (the things that energise you and that you are naturally good at, or have the ability to become good at) is good both at an individual, and an organisational level. 

I’ve run a lot of workshops since the pandemic started, many of them with Nicky, and we’re firm believers that half the power of a coaching workshop is realising that you aren’t alone. We’re all humans at the end of the day.

Rich and I decide to head out to lunch to one of our local coffee shops. It’s lovely to catch up over eggs and flat whites. He also runs his own business, and this week has been so busy we’ve felt a bit like ships passing in the night. I spend the afternoon studying for Mindfulness Training next week.

Emily has a school friend who is sleeping over tonight, so other than cooking their dinner, I’m not wanted. Instead, I have a G&T over Zoom with a girlfriend. We’ve done this regularly over the last eight months and it’s made the world of difference.

Looking back I’d say this week was... busy!

Are you looking for more information about taking the next step up in your career? Head here for more information about AllBright Elevator.

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